While Washington State awaits final votes in the state legislature on a landmark transportation investment package by the weekend, the entire nation is depending on action by Congress to keep existing federal transportation programs alive past July 31.
Members of Congress need to find an estimated $11 billion to fully fund federal transportation programs through the end of the year.
Washington Congressman Dave Reichert told Politico this week that leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee are: “hoping for an extension until the end of the year” to buy enough time for a “five- to six- to seven-year long-term bill.”
But many are hoping for a longer term fix that would require finding as much as $90 billion more over the next six years.
One key Senate committee has agreed to a long term policies, but tax and budget writers in the House and Senate have yet to propose funding to keep things alive through this year – or through 2021.
Congressman Dave Reichert of Auburn is Chairman of a key funding subcommittee charged with finding solutions. He indicated this week that committee leaders are looking at a shorter term fix that can set the stage for a long term bill.
The federal Highway Trust Fund has faced chronic shortfalls for years and Congress has always found funding to keep programs going.
Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.
In Olympia, lawmakers have until July 27 to take final votes on the Connecting Washington transportation package during the current special session – but are now expected to complete their work by the weekend.
All three major components of the transportation package have cleared the state Senate.
The state House has passed the key revenue bill, and has been expected to act on the bonding and project pieces of the package on Friday.
An agreement on education policy announced by Senate leaders today is expected to end a logjam that had held up final votes in the House on transportation. Final votes are expected in the state Senate tomorrow.
Governor Jay Inslee called the agreement great news that “allows the Legislature to move forward on wrapping up its work for this year.”